WORLD LEADING THERAPIST Answers The Biggest Questions People Ask In Therapy | Lori Gottlieb | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "WORLD LEADING THERAPIST Answers The Biggest Questions People Ask In Therapy | Lori Gottlieb".


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Intro (00:00)

I think people treat dating like shopping. I want this, I'm gonna go find this. You don't choose a partner a la carte. How do I feel with this person? That is the most important question you can ask. And if you enjoy their company, you feel heard, you feel understood, all the rest is just noise. - Psychotherapist and New York Times best-selling author. - Lori, Lori Gottlieb. - A lot of times relational issues are childhood issues in disguise. - Yeah, I think you're spot on. - Many problems are so fixable. You can heal a lot of things to have more of a relationship than you ever thought possible. - Before we jump into this episode, I'd like to invite you to join this community to hear more interviews that will help you become happier, healthier and more healed. All I want you to do is click on the subscribe button. I love your support. It's incredible to see all your comments and we're just getting started. I can't wait to go on this journey with you. Thank you so much for subscribing. It means the world to me. - The best-selling author and host. The number one health and wellness podcast. - One purpose with Jay Shetty. - I've been talking to a friend and one of the biggest challenges she's going through is that men tend to want to have a relationship with her even though she tends to want to be friends with them and is open potentially at some point in the future to it going somewhere else, but is not putting herself out there saying, "I wanna be in a relationship.

Relationships And Dating Advice

Dear Therapist: Why Do Men Only Want Sex, Not Friendships (01:02)

"I wanna date." She wants to just build up good connections, good friendships. And what ends up happening is that she ends up in these scenarios where men are then sometimes guilty, shaming, bullying her into believing that there's something more here and that she's denying it. And she feels really uncomfortable because deep down she cares about this individual. She admires them, appreciates them, but she just doesn't see them romantically. And I think what's really hard is the deeper point that I think is more universal, that a lot of people can connect with is you care about someone just not in that way so you don't know how to keep a distance at the same time you don't wanna be intimate with them. Does that make sense? - Yeah, it absolutely does. And I think that the problem people have is that they feel like I don't wanna hurt this person. And at the same time, they're not thinking about what matters in this friendship to me. So it doesn't sound like a great friendship if the other person is telling you, "No, you actually feel this other way." So you wanna talk about, "Are you willing? "Are you interested in being friends with me "because I'm not interested in anything else "and part of being friends with me "is hearing what I have to say and believing me. "Otherwise, I don't think we're gonna have a friendship "that's healthy." So if you want to be in my life, I would like to be in your life. If you want that, then I need you to believe me when I tell you this is how I feel and not try to push me into something that doesn't feel comfortable to me. And then that person can really think, "Do I want this person in my life knowing "this is their hard boundary?" But people don't say it that way. They feel like I'm going to hurt this person or they start arguing with the person. If you find yourself arguing with someone about how you feel, that's not a great friendship. - And that's so hard, right? I feel today so many of these conversations are happening over text. - Yes. - Or messaging these aren't face-to-face conversations. They're happening in a way where you're writing this much. Someone's responding, reply back. When you find that this goes on and on and on and it can kind of spiral for days, sometimes weeks, how do you kind of accept that it might be time to draw a line, maybe distance or disconnect and move on even though that's painful or what is that moment where you can kind of just say, "I'm going to honor myself. "I'm going to honor what I wanted from this friendship." That doesn't exist anymore. - You know, first of all, I think that this thing about text is really important.

The Pitfalls Of Texting In Dating (03:50)

I have so many clients who come into therapy and they'll say, "You know, we had this conversation "and they'll tell me this conversation "that went on and on and on and on." And I'm thinking, "How did this conversation go on? "Were they there for five hours? "What happened?" And it turns out they've been texting for days about it. I said, "Why didn't you just have this conversation "in face-to-face?" And they say, "Well, that would have been too hard, "but look how hard it is to have it on text. "I think it's so much harder to have it on text "because when you're together, "you're actually connecting even if it's difficult, "even if you're saying some things "that might cause some discomfort, "it's easier actually to do it in person." So it's kind of paradoxical that people think, "I'm going to protect myself and somebody else "by doing this on text "because you're not protecting anyone, "it's easier to have a challenging conversation in person. "It goes so much better."

Establishing Healthy Boundaries Early (04:43)

However you encouraged people to take that leap into having difficult conversations across relationships, not just in this scenario, in person, because it's exactly what you just said. People feel anxious, they feel like they won't know how to control their emotions, they feel they might say something they don't mean, or the other person might say something they're not ready to hear. And I find more and more people, whether it's in the workplace, whether it's in their marriage, whether it's in a friendship, struggle to have difficult conversations face to face, what are some of the practices or methods or tools that you've shared with people to help them do that? - Well, first of all, I think that people establish patterns in a relationship very early on. I always say that relationships are like cement. So in the beginning, there's a little flexibility. So the other person is texting you when you want to have a conversation. You can kind of mold that by saying, "Hey, let's talk in person." But if you keep texting them, then the cement dries. And that becomes the pattern in the relationship with anything. So many people put up with a lot at the beginning of a relationship because they think this person has all these other great qualities. So what if they can't really have a conversation with me? Right? You know, I have so much fun with them, or I can fix them, or over time I'll bring this up later, but I don't want to bring it up now because we're early in the relationship. No, no, no, that's the time you should bring it up because the cement is drying and it dries quickly. So patterns get established. So if the cement is dry and then you try to change it and say, "Let's have a face-to-face conversation." But you guys have been texting about things for months instead of talking about them, it's really hard to change that. So I would say very early on, establish what you want in a relationship. And if the other person isn't down for it, that's really good information to have early on. It's almost like, well, now if you want to talk to me about it in person, it must be high stakes. Yes. It's like amplifies how significant this moment is when it shouldn't be that way, it should be the norm. If someone is doing it later on in a relationship, how do they do it in a way that doesn't feel like this is groundbreaking or this is, we need to talk? Yeah, yeah, it's actually pretty straightforward. And I know it's hard to do in the moment, but to be able to just make that shift in the relationship and say, you know what, I know we've been texting about this stuff, but I think it'll be so much better for us, it's so much easier to talk about this in person. And then you see, will the other person show up? Will they keep texting you or will they say, sure, let's get together, let's talk about it? Yeah, I feel like a lot of people just keep texting. Because what they're afraid of, is they're afraid that it's gonna be harder. Again, like they're gonna drop some big bombshell. And you're saying, no, I just want us to be able to be in a room together and talk about anything. Yeah, absolutely, all right, great. Well, I hope, friend, if you're listening, I hope that answers your question. Another one that kept coming up from our audience, there were a couple of people who felt this way was around, and I wanna spend some time in, actually we'll go back and forth, we'll go back and forth, we'll come back to relationships. One of the biggest ones that we obviously get a lot about is social anxiety.

Dear Therapist: I Struggle With Social Anxiety, How Can I Fix It? (07:47)

And a lot of the questions that came up and some of the stories that I'd dive into is people just struggling with being around big groups, people going to events or parties or even their friends home where other people are there, struggling to strike up a conversation, feeling lonely and disconnected even in the crowd, feeling uncomfortable, being able to share what they're doing and feeling confident about what they're doing. Let's talk about where's the root of some of that social anxiety coming from? I know it can be many different things. What are the variety of things it can be? And what have you seen some of the ways of helping people understand that anxiety better rather than staying at home, keeping away and maybe not encouraging to go out and meet people? So I think that whatever we're experiencing is relational. And so a lot of times relational issues are childhood issues in disguise and even with social anxiety. So for example, if you have a story that you've been told when you were younger, like I'm not good enough or I don't measure up or people are going to criticize me, whatever your experience had been, you're going to project that onto all of your relationships as an adult. So social anxiety is usually something about I will not be liked, I will not be loved. And that has to do with how you were liked or loved when you were younger, if you haven't processed that and worked that out. So I think that it's about kind of rewriting your story before you say, I'm not going to go to that event. What am I afraid of? What am I afraid someone's going to think and is that true? And do I have evidence from other parts of my life now as an adult that it's not true? I think unfortunately the stories that people told us about ourselves are about the storyteller, meaning it was the person in our past who had mental health issues or they had their own insecurities and they projected them onto their children. They were limited, they didn't know how to interact, they didn't know how to love. And then they criticized their children or they neglected their children or they couldn't hear them or see them or value them. They couldn't feel that excitement around like, I love who this human being is. And I think then that gets internalized and then you grew up and you think everybody in the world thinks that about me. And A, it's just not true that other people think that, but more importantly, it's just not true that you are whatever story you were told about you. So you need to say, what is the true story? And then you go into that environment with the true story and it doesn't mean you have to go to a party with 100 people. It means maybe I open up to a friend a little bit more. Maybe I try hanging out with a group of three people and see what that's like. And you kind of experiment and when you see that this old story doesn't seem to be playing out in these new situations, you get more confident going into bigger and bigger situations. Yeah, it's those baby steps. And I often surprise people when I tell them that I'm, in some cases, so much more of an introvert than I am an extrovert. And it's kind of confusing for people because I generally am in places where I can be my extro itself. But if I go to an event where I don't know anyone, I'm likely to try and find one person that I can have a really deep, meaningful conversation with rather than working the room or trying to connect with loads of people because I feel so much happier and fulfilled if I can walk away from an event and go, wow, I met one person and we have so much in common and we share so many values. And now I'm actually going to keep in touch with that person as opposed to the idea of like, well, oh my God, I feel the pressure that I need to talk to 20 people here and I should be networking and I should be exchanging numbers and whatever it may be, which isn't how I like to operate. And so I love that idea of those baby steps and starting small. Yeah, yeah, and I also think there's a difference between being an introvert. I'm exactly like you in the sense of, I really like to have these deep conversations and I'd rather be with fewer people and have a deeper connection than be with more people and have a more superficial connection. But at the same time, I feel like it's one thing to say, I would rather have these sort of smaller more intimate conversations, but I'm not anxious going into them. And so I think what you're talking about with social anxiety is I'm anxious to just reveal the truth of who I am to anybody. I'm worried about showing up and being found wanting. Yeah, and I think that is what a lot of people are struggling with. So I guess, does it help then having a question you wanna ask people? Does it help? I found that for people that I work with when they struggle because they're like, what do we talk about?

How To Have Deeper Conversations With People (12:37)

I don't wanna sit there and talk about the weather or I don't wanna talk about the news or and it was like having a question to open with, to ask, to share with someone and being confident to share on that question felt like something that definitely has helped me and helped people I know where you also know that you do feel comfortable sharing that part of your life. Have you found any other tools or methods that have helped individuals in those spaces? What you're saying is so true. And I think that's curiosity that I think when people feel anxious, they feel like they have to tell a story that's entertaining. They have to keep the person from being bored with whatever they're talking about. People like to talk about themselves. So if you're, and I don't mean that in kind of a narcissistic way, I mean that people like it when you show interest in them. And we don't, a lot of people don't ask other people about themselves enough. So when they have an opportunity for a person who genuinely is curious, this isn't just some kind of strategy for your social anxiety. It's actually a way to relate to people. I'm genuinely curious to get to know you and you ask questions about their life. They're gonna be really interested in interacting with you. - Yeah. And I think what's even more true about what you're saying is that everyone's feeling that way. And therefore everyone feels like everyone is uninterested in everyone else. And so I've been to events with people before and they've come with me and they've said, oh that person was so cold. Or that person seemed like they had an ego. And I was like, well no, I know that that person just feels uncomfortable in these settings. And it's weird how we all just look at each other and we kind of make these judgments of like, oh they were called, they brushed me off. But actually everyone's just feeling quite anxious as opposed to having this like vendetta against you or some sort of, and obviously it could be something else as you get to know them better. But it's worth giving someone the benefit of the doubt and stepping it out there. - Yeah and I also think another thing that turns people off is when you ask about sort of external things like, tell me about what you do, tell me about your work, right? Because then it feels like, oh are they trying to network with me or do they actually want to get to know me? You know you can ask something like, where did you grow up? - Yes. - Something as simple as that. And you're like, oh I grew up here, oh really? Wow, you know that's so different from where I grew up. Or I grew up somewhere similar. And you know did you have siblings? Did you, what was that like? How did you end up here? Just get their story. - Absolutely, yeah I think your spot on. I think the work question is kind of, it's kind of faded away. I feel like it's how people used to talk and connect. And you're so right. I think now everyone always feels like, what's the agenda here? But asking about, yeah, for me, when I'm at a birthday party, like how do you know the person whose birthday is? How do you know the person who's getting married? Like, how are you connected to them? I found that to be a much healthier question. And then as you were just saying now, like I love asking people where they're from because I'm from London, I lived in New York, I live here now. It's like, it's great for me to learn about the United States 'cause people are from all over the place here and places I've never heard of and never been to, can be in education and all of a sudden, it's you can see someone opening up. And it's easy for most people to mention where they grew up or where they started rather than a question about like their job or whatever it may be. - Right, because that always feels there's so much pressure with that. Am I successful enough? Am I telling the right story? Or if you are successful, I don't wanna make them feel bad. So there's all this stuff underneath, whereas we're just connecting human to human with, tell me about yourself, tell me about your story. - Yeah, absolutely. All right, now I wanna switch into back into relationships because it seems to be a big one and this is something that a couple of people that came through our audience have been struggling with. And it was this idea of being with someone or dating someone, but you don't like their work ethic or you don't think they are focused enough.

Dear Therapist: My Partner Isn’t Ambitious Enough, Does This Relationship Have A Future? (16:24)

So these people say that I'm very hardworking, I'm very focused, I've started dating this person who I like a lot of qualities they have, but something I really obviously value is someone who's driven and ambitious and a doer, but I'm not really seeing that in them. Does this relationship have a chance to last? Does it have a future? Or am I always gonna feel this way? - This reminds me of this saying you don't choose a partner all a cart. You can't just order up all the qualities that you want. I want them to be sensitive and I want them to be kind and I want them to be super driven and ambitious. And I want, you know, you get what you get and there's gonna be all these different qualities. And if that's really important to you and you are going to feel like I want to change this person, then that's doomed, that the person is who they are. Now it's different if the person says, I'm working on this for myself. This is something that I'm trying to do. This is my area of growth right now. And maybe you might say, how can I support you? And then you only do what they ask. You don't do more than they asked in terms of supporting that. But if you want someone who comes, you know, intrinsically driven in that way, that's probably not a good partner for you. - And I guess the counterpoint is also true that you may discover someone ambitious and driven, but they may not have the other qualities. But I think it's obviously what researchers today are calling the paradox of choice, right? We've heard that so many times. And I think today, because there is so much more choice or at least the perception that there is so much more choice, I think there is a belief that people have of, I don't want to settle. I believe this person does exist that will have all of these things. How have you navigated that with clients when they're telling you, I feel like I'm getting older, I'm worried about my body clock, I'm scared about, you know, not finding someone, I'm getting pressure from my parents and my friends.

Healthy Dating & Relationship Standards (18:26)

But at the same time, I don't want to settle, which is a completely fair, valid feeling. - Right. - At the same time, you're saying, well, you can't order someone ala kah. And so how do we kind of, how do you help people grapple with those, I guess, conflicting ideas or what at least seems that way? - I think you have to know what your deal breakers are, but they have to be the right kind of deal breakers. So I want people to kind of let go of some of the things that research shows doesn't matter for a happy lasting relationship. And I want people to have higher standards, ironically, about what does. So the character issues, you know, is this person a kind person? The two most important predictors of whether a relationship will succeed are emotional stability. Do you both have emotional stability? Are you whole in that way? I don't mean like you're finished, right? I just mean that you can self-regulate, you can have a conversation, you don't act out in egregious ways, you're honest, those kinds of things. And the other one is flexibility. It's really hard to be in a relationship with someone who's very rigid. So those are two things really to think about, but in terms of the character qualities that should be the big deal breakers, is this person responsible? Do they say, do they mean what they say? How did they show up? What do they do under stress? That's really important because you will experience that in the course of your lives together. Do they have a sense of humor, right? And when things are stressful, can we still hold those contradictions of this is hard and we can support each other, make each other laugh? You know, the things that people get hung up on are, oh, I'm not sure that that career is the career that I want. So to be with someone, right? As opposed to, wow, they're really passionate about this thing. That's a really cool quality. So maybe they won't make as much money, but between what I make and what they make, will that work for us? So, you know, letting go is sort of like a lot of these fantasies that we're told growing up. We should be looking for in a partner versus who do you want to spend time with every day? Who is the person that you really enjoy spending time with, who you also feel safe with? And I think safety is so important. I feel safe with this person because I know that the rug is not going to be pulled out from under me. - Yeah, that's such great advice. I love hearing about the things that should be deal breakers and the things that shouldn't. And I want to talk about those first two. I find that so much growth today, and maybe it's always been this way, but so much of our growth is happening while we're with people. It's not happening in that we solved it before we were 18 or 21 and now we move on to a relationship. And I don't think people are often getting the best versions of people. You're getting the work in progress version. At all times, like you said, no one's ever finished, but I find that more often than not, I'm just hearing about such a lack of flexibility and such a lack of emotional regulation when I'm hearing about people's stories and learning about them and how people talk to each other, how people deal with problems. And I find, of course, we're obviously all of that. I've been talking to you from a therapy perspective. A lot of that's coming from childhood. A lot of that's coming from personal trauma. It's very hard to make sense of that when you first meet someone and you're dating someone, you're almost meeting the best version of them because it's the one they're portraying or the one that they want you to see. And then naturally, you spend longer with someone, you see them stressed, you see them angry, you see them upset, you start seeing all of this other 360, I guess the question is, how do we allow for the fact that we're less likely to meet someone who is the finished product, but at the same time, give ourselves enough time to not feel too deep or fall too hard. - Yeah, I think about that saying in the first three months of a relationship, you're not you, you're the ambassador of you.

The Importance Of Listening To Your Partner (22:25)

So it's very hard to know and everybody's on their best behavior. But I think that people, you're still having a lot of deep discussions in those first three months 'cause you feel this incredible vulnerability and intimacy. And people will tell you a lot of things that maybe you don't want to hear. So they are these red flags and you kind of block them out. You think, oh, well, that's okay or I'm not gonna pay attention to that. You project onto them who you want them to be as opposed to who they actually are. And I think that what you said about we grow in relationship is so true. I think that people grow so much more in couples therapy than they might even in individual therapy because you are forced to contend with another person that you're coming up against. And I really feel like, A, you have to listen to those, to those everything that they tell you. The good, the kind of questionable, all of it. And just say, what does that mean? And you can even think about, well, let me get more information about that. What did they mean when they said, oh, they don't really want kids? Like, like, what does that mean? Does that mean now? Does that mean ever? What does that mean? You have to listen to these things. What does that mean where they talk really, really, with a lot of aggressive language about a parent, for example? That means that, yes, maybe that parent really disappointed them and maybe there was a lot of trauma, but how have they sort of processed that and where are they with processing that? Because if that's still so raw to them, that will come out in your relationship with them. You might not think that's gonna come out toward you, but it will, right? We marry our unfinished business. So I think you really have to look out for that. So no, you're not looking for like a person who has all the answers. I don't think anybody ever has all the answers. But you're looking for willingness to show up, willingness to take responsibility, willingness to apologize, that's huge. And also willingness to bring things up. So, and are you willing to hear what the other person has to say? So a lot of times when I'm seeing a couple and someone will say, you know, oh, this person never brings things up. I'm less interested in the fact that they don't bring it up and I'm more interested in why. What are you afraid of? Why can't you talk to your partner? And they might say, when I have brought things up, my partner tries to talk me out of the way that I feel. When I try to bring things up, my partner tries to tell me I'm wrong. When I try to bring things up, my partner shuts down. When I try to bring things up, my partner yells. When I try to bring things up, my partner acts like they don't like me anymore. Right? So then they say, okay, I'm not gonna bring things up. So then we need to talk about, well, this is a dance that the two of you are doing. It's not just that this person is avoidant. It's that you are inviting the avoidance. So no one's to blame here. It's just that you guys are doing a dance and you both have to change your dance steps if you wanna change the dynamic in the relationship. I think a lot of our inflexibility leads to this binary thinking of, oh my gosh, if they've got issues with their parents, then I can't be with them.

What Is A Healthy Boundary? (25:47)

Or if they've got this, I can't be with them. And I think, or if they're like this, then I should be with them. And I almost feel like there's that middle ground of just, no, I just, these are things I need to be aware of. And then I can still be in a relationship or choose not to, but I feel like there's a lot of binary decision making based on small data points. Yes. Because we are so scared by our own trigger or by our own pain that comes from that, that we can easily write something off that may just need a little more work. Yeah. I don't know if that, if you agree, you can disagree completely. That's just, I'm just sharing what my thoughts are at least. Oh yeah, I agree. A great example of that is I was seeing a couple and he had a lot of issues with authority because his father really kind of misused authority as he was growing up. So that's a big trigger for him. And he's really working on it. So if he wasn't working on it, that would be different, but he's really working on it. But sometimes things happen. And so his partner had this beautiful, we came up with in couples therapy, a beautiful way for her. You know, when you can see the childhood wounds and you can help, they're working on it. So you're not solving it for them, but you can support them in some way. So if she saw him out in public, maybe getting triggered by something and wouldn't happen often, if it happened a lot, that would be a problem. She would just put her hand on his arm like that and it just calmed his nervous system. And it brought him to the present. It was such a beautiful thing that she could do for him. And she had stuff from childhood and he knew, oh, I can see the little girl in her right now. I have so much compassion, instead of getting frustrated by it, so much compassion for the little girl. I know this about her. And here's what I can do for her in that moment. These short hands, these little things that you can do to kind of help someone, instead of going from zero to 60, just go from like zero to five. And then be like, oh, now I can come back down. - We think we can see where our partners triggers are and what their weaknesses are, especially if you get to know them better. And you start to think, oh yeah, I know that his mom talks to him like that. And so that's why he's talking to me like that, because he's taking that stress out on me. - That's useful, but often we don't look at that as context and compassion and empathy. We look at that as how does he not get it? Or how did they not get it, that that's where it comes from. And we almost want our partner to like learn the lesson or it's so obvious, how can you not see it? And here you are talking about like a gentle test in the arm that helps someone calm their trigger. How do you help each other understand your triggers in a way that doesn't trigger you? Because I feel like it's such a sensitive conversation to have and because some people are self-unaware and some are self-aware, or you're seeing things in others, but you can't see it in yourself. How do you have healthier conversations around, hey, do you know why we're behaving this way? Do you know why we're talking like this? - Yeah, we just had a beautiful episode on the podcast. So on our podcast, geotherapists, we bring people on for actual sessions and then we give them homework to do and then they tell us how it went at the end of the session. We had this young couple on and her trigger was wait. That she wanted to, she was trying to set a boundary, but it was a very difficult boundary. It was, you know, sometimes we think about boundaries as, I'm going to make this request and you're going to do it. And if you don't do it, then you have broken my boundary. That's not how boundaries work. - Okay. - Boundaries are about, and I think this is a really important point related to this, which is that when you set a boundary, you're deciding for yourself what you will do, not what the other person will do. So you can say to the other person in her case, I don't like it when you talk about wait, because that's a big trigger for me. Growing up, that was something that was always talked about. I don't want to talk about dieting. I don't want to talk about people's weight or people's appearance. That really bothers me. But it got to the point where he couldn't say anything about, you know, like it was too restrictive of a boundary. And so they would argue about this because they'd just like, I'm just not going to say anything because I never know what's going to trigger you. Her boundary could have been, I'm going to ask him not to say a reasonable number of things about wait, but there are certain things that he might say, and I'm going to have to maybe leave the room or I'm going to self-regulate or I'm going to have a mantra for myself. That's what I'm going to do. They would argue about this. And what would happen is she would, you know, we had to get to sort of what was underneath this. And she finally discovered it's like, I need more affirmation. I need more like, just flirt with me during the day. Or, you know, he said, I need that too. And so we gave him this homework assignment where they just had to do one very subtle flirtation. You know, just once a day and she left a little note on the bathroom mirror and he said, oh my God, that made me feel so, the whole day I was so excited. It is these tiny things. And so then she was less triggered when like food would come up because he was so much about like, you look beautiful. And she said, you always say, when I get my eyebrows done, you're like, dang. And she's like, why won't you do that with other things? I don't want to have to get my eyebrows done. And he was like, oh my God, I think you're so beautiful. I should be saying that more. So it just, it just realizing, you know, what is the trigger really about? And then how can you as a partner support that? - Yeah. And I just want to reemphasize that point. If anyone missed it, it's like boundaries are not to control other people's actions towards you, they're to control your own actions based on what others do to you. - Right. And the important part about boundaries is maintenance, by the way. So it's not just one time. It's, let's say that you say to someone, you know, if you yell at me, if you raise your voice, I'm going to end the conversation. We had this on the podcast with someone else. A father was kept talking to his daughter about, when are you going to get married? When are you and your boyfriend going to get married? And she said to him, if you bring that up, I'm going to end the conversation. Or I'm going to leave the room because I want to have fun with you when I'm with you. And this just makes it really stressful. And so every time, it had to be in every time, he mentions that, you say, dad, just remind her, we'll talk another time. And if you don't do that, if you don't do it consistently, like let's say that you do it 10 times within one time, you like let that conversation continue, the person thinks, oh, I can still talk about this because they're not going to leave the room. They're not going to end the conversation. So again, it's what you do. You have to hold the boundary every single time for yourself and the other person is going to realize at a certain point, if I want to be in that person's presence, I can't bring this up because every single time they're going to leave. - And I think that's the mistake we make. We break our own boundaries in order to show our care or to be seen as a good person or whatever it may be. But that ends up setting us up for more failure because now that person thinks they can cross the boundary as well because we're doing it anyway. - Yes. - Yes. Boundaries are just such a fascinating thing because I find them so useful in so many areas of my life. But I think you just hit the nail on the head that it's our own letting our guard down about our own boundaries that actually allows people to think they can break them anyway. It's not about them breaking them down. Like if you stay pretty strong on that, I mean, people can still do what they want but at least you'll know where you stand with them. I remember a small example of what you just said. I remember whenever I'd go back to London because I like to see my family there, there'd be certain members of my family who'd always say to me, "Oh, you're only back for 30 days." And then I'd see them the week after and they'd be like, "Oh, you're only got 21 days left." And I'd just be like, "Guys, I'm back for 30 days." And I had to draw a boundary around just and it sounds so small and silly, but it isn't because I didn't like hearing that because I was like, "Let's just be really grateful "for this present moment. "Let's have the best time we're together right now." And I don't want to sit here and think about how many days I have left. Again, it can be so small, but it can be so important to you. But I have to honor that. Okay, if you bring up time again, then XYZ is going to happen or whatever it may be. - Yeah, and the other thing about boundaries is that people think that boundaries separate you.

How To Maintain Your Boundaries (34:14)

The point of the boundary is to bring you closer. It's, I can be in, I want to be in relationship with you, but we need to have these boundaries. I remember somebody wrote into the column, a parent wrote in and said, "My daughter has all these boundaries "about how many times I call her during the day." And she said, "You know, I'm setting a boundary." And he wrote in and said, "I don't want to have a boundary relationship." And I wrote back and I said, "Every relationship is a boundary relationship. "If you can't just do whatever you want into relationship, "all relationships have boundaries." It's like, it's kind of like the difference between being in an ocean with no boundaries or being in a fishbowl where the boundaries are too tight and people can't live. You want to be in an aquarium in relationship, right? So there's enough room for each person to kind of have their space, but it's not so constrained that like, everybody's walking on eggshells, and it's not so open like an ocean where you can just do whatever you want. - Yeah, well said, I like that analogy. - And I think that the important thing about the boundary is when you set the boundary, it's saying, "I want to be closer to you. "I want to be in relationship with you, "but if you keep doing that, it's going to push me away." So please don't mention this, right? Don't criticize me, don't talk about whether I'm married because that's gonna make me go farther away. I want to be close to you. - And actually, that is a sign of closeness because if someone actually learns about your boundaries, they actually are learning about some of the most intimate details about you because if you're saying, "This triggers me," or, "This makes me feel upset," or, "This really gets to me," you're actually displaying, "vomberably," something that's so significant and meaningful to you, and so it should bring you closer to someone else. It's like, that person actually values and respects you so much to actually open up and share with you a weakness or a pain point. - Yeah, I saw some friends on the podcast we were doing and they came together and they were saying, like, "I set some boundaries and the other person thinks "that I don't want to be friends." And no, what you're saying is, "I want this friend," they've been friends since childhood and things change, things evolve as you move into adulthood and you move into family life and your different stages of life, whatever they might be. And this person was like, "I am doing this because I want to, "our friendship matters to me. "It's important." And once the other friend heard that, the boundaries were fine. It was that this person thought, "Oh, you're trying to dump me." And she's saying, "No, I'm doing the opposite. "I'm trying to keep our friendship alive." - Yeah. And I think that's part of the communication. I feel like there's a need for whoever you are, if you're the person in the relationship, that's almost to some degree guiding this conversation. It's important for you to clarify why you're setting the boundary. I think often we just say, "This is what I want to do." And we kind of announce it. And it's more of an announcement than it is a setting of a boundary. And it's so much more powerful when someone says to you, "Hey, I actually really value our relationship. "And I think this is going to bring us closer." And that's why I'm actually being really vulnerable with you. And I'm sharing with you, "This is how I feel when you do this." And it would mean the world to me if we were able to shift this or this is how I'm probably going to behave if this happens. But that kind of casing that sometimes our communication needs to be in it, it demands a lot of us. And I get this feedback from a lot of people when we're talking to them on the podcast and through my books and everything is that people feel like they're often the one carrying the torch to help this maturity develop in a relationship. And a lot of people are quite exhausted by it. They're like, "Well, gosh, I'm trying to help us set boundaries. "I'm the one setting agreements. "I'm the one who's encouraging us to be positive "and it can get really exhausting carrying the torch." What do you say to people who feel that way right now?

Letting Go Of People Who Are Not Serving You (38:10)

They're like, "You know what, Laurie, "I'm trying to be curious with my partner. "I'm trying to do this with my friends. "I'm like the one setting up this, "but I'm exhausted now. "And so I don't know how long I can do it for. "And I just want them to step up." - So often what we'll see is if that person will come to couples therapy, we'll find out either the person doesn't want to step up and you keep asking them to do something they are not interested in doing. And so the question I would ask the person who feels like they're holding the burden of it all is, "Why are you trying so hard? "Why are you in this?" You know, like, how is this serving you? Because this is so hard, you're not happy. Why are you, why do you remain in, why are you trying to get this person to do something? Why don't you find someone who is willing and interested in the kinds of things that you're interested in in a relationship? And so then there's some, usually some old stuff there about, you know, what we call repetition compulsion, which is trying to, you find someone who is unwilling to give you what you need or want, which is maybe some old stuff. And then you think like, "I'm gonna do it with this person "because this time I'll win. "This time I can make it happen. "I couldn't make it happen when I was a child, "but this time I'll win, except you won't win." It doesn't happen that way. The way you win is you let go of that, you grieve what you didn't get, and then you go find it in someone without trying to change them. So you're not trying to win anything, it's already there. But another reason, another thing that might happen is this couple comes to couples therapy, and the person says, "I'm not showing up "because the other person's so controlling. "This person has tried to control everything. "They're trying to set every rule. "They're trying to manage every aspect of our lives. "And there's no room for me and my thoughts "and how I want things to go. "And when I say I want this, they say, "No, you're wrong. "No, it can't be that way, it's my way. "This is the way. "This is, I'm the healthy person, "you're the not healthy person." And that doesn't feel good either. - Yeah. It requires so much self-excavation to just see whether we're being that person or we can often so get lost in our holier than thou and kind of this feeling of like, "Oh, I'm so emotionally mature and I'm so self-aware "and I'm doing the work and I know the language "and all of a sudden, actually we're being so evangelical "that the person that we're speaking to is kind of feeling "like they have no say or no impact or no involvement." One of the scenarios that came up in this conversation while we were preparing for this podcast was this couple, the woman earns more than the man.

Dear Therapist: I’m A Woman & I Earn More Than My Male Partner, He’s Uncomfortable With It (40:41)

And she doesn't have an issue with it. She's very comfortable with it. She didn't care. She wasn't, that wasn't a big priority for it. It wasn't a deal breaker for her, but it's really triggering to him. And he's uncomfortable with that. And so if the topic of money comes up or budgeting comes up, he often tries to, yeah, he gets very uncomfortable about it. It can make him, can make him angry, can make him upset. She's trying to figure out how does she help him become more confident and comfortable and happy about who he is and not feel this pressure that he feels potentially coming from his family or his upbringing as well. - Yeah, this would be a great thing for them to talk about in couples therapy and really get it sort of what does money represent to them? Does it represent self-esteem, acceptance, love, power, lack of power? Money represents so many things. I think people when they talk about money, if they talk about money in their relationships, it's such a sensitive topic, they tend to talk about it on the content level, like let's make a budget or why did you spend money on that? Right? And they're not really talking about, how do we both feel about money? What was money like in our households when we grew up? What were the messages that we got around money? Some people got really mixed messages. Money is good, money is bad. We have money, we don't have money, value judgments. It's okay to spend money on this, but not on this. And so you bring all of that into your relationship. And then the gender roles, of course, right? So what does that represent? What kind of family did you grow up in in terms of how they thought about gender and power and money and how that changes with culture, with the kind of maybe egalitarian marriage that you want? Those are all conversations they need to have. Not about let's sit down and make a budget, but about all the questions that I was just bringing up. Those are such great questions. And I know that they work because me and my wife have sat down and looked at that through our marriage. And we've had so many questions about that because we both came from very different financial setups and our relationship with money was very, very different. I started working very, very young. My wife started working while she was at college and after. And just as time grew in our lifestyle chains and things changed, there were so many conversations. We had to always reset as well. It wasn't just like, oh, we've solved it now. We don't talk about money anymore. And we've had to almost reevaluate and rethink that topic so many times depending on how many changes there are. But I find that those are the questions that I find people avoiding. Or when they do talk about it, it's always a full-blown argument. So it's like you said, it's either about budgeting if they talk about it in a healthy way or at least a practical way, it's probably a better word. Or we don't talk about it 'cause you're like so scared to mention it because when you do, it turns into a full-blown argument. And now we're arguing about not even money. We're arguing about something else.

Personal Growth And Self-Help

How To Have Difficult Conversations? (43:56)

I wanna help people have the tools to start difficult conversations with people in their life. It could be of mom, it could be your dad, it could be, you know, I feel like all of us avoid, we avoid discomfort in our lives and uncomfortable conversations are one of the biggest ones, whether it's when you're firing someone, when you're giving feedback to someone, when you're trying to be direct with someone, these are such challenging things to do. How do we sit in the discomfort? Or how do we prepare for uncomfortable conversations to help them go better? - First of all, I think that people are worried that somehow they're being unkind by bringing something up that's uncomfortable. The kindest thing you can do is to have a conversation with somebody that is real and genuine and authentic. I think that the way you start that is you start it with yourself. So before you even get to the other person, you wanna be able to say to yourself, I'm being really kind and I'm remembering their humanity and I'm going to have this conversation in an open, generous, curious way. So I'm not here to set my agenda necessarily. I'm here to be curious about their experience so we together can come to some kind of understanding about each other that we didn't have before. And I think that's the framework that you come into any hard conversation with. - Yeah, and it's almost like, again, comes back down to what we're discussing here today is like framing a conversation. I think we get so lost in like, what are we trying to solve? - Yeah. - And we're trying to be very logical. And actually it's like, well, no framing the conversation in the emotion of understanding how people feel about things and where it comes from and what this could lead to is so much more important than actually solving the problem. - Right, and knowing that this is gonna be a dialogue, not a monologue. I think that we're like, I have something important to say and you're gonna deliver whatever you're gonna deliver to them. It's not a monologue. It's not I'm coming to deliver something. I'm coming to bring up a topic and I wanna hear where the other person is coming from and you might wanna ask them first. Like, hey, I know that money has been kind of stressful for us. Can we talk a little bit about it? I'm curious to hear more about what money is what it means to you, what it was like growing up. I wanna share that with you about what it means to me, what it was like for me growing up. And you could have a really beautiful conversation. The other thing is, if it's a romantic relationship, hold hands. It's really hard to argue. It actually calms your nervous systems. Just hold hands as you're having the conversation. It's so lovely. It opens people up to be more vulnerable. - Yeah, no, I love this advice and I really hope everyone is listening or watching you're gonna try and practice some of these. They're so subtle and there's such small insights but they make such a big difference because it could be a game changer when you approach the same conversation in a completely different way and it can transform the trajectory of your relationship with an individual because they have so much more respect for how you handled it too. - We just did a podcast episode with a mother and daughter. They've been having the same fight for 25 years and they came on the podcast and we have never talked about it this way and it's not because we did something unheard of. It was just because they had never been taught to talk about, they've been having literally the same conversation or lack of conversation when one person would shut the other person out, usually a daughter shutting the mother out and they'd just never talked about it in this other way and I think so many people think, oh, we have a problem and it's not fixable. Many problems are so fixable, you can heal a lot of things, maybe not in exactly the way you want but certainly to have more of a relationship than you ever thought possible. - All right, I've got so many more for you. I hope you're having fun, Laurie and I hope everyone is listening. - Sure, yeah, I love talking about all this stuff. - Yeah, it's so fascinating to just dive into these real scenarios that all of you have sent in and I wanna give a big thank you to everyone who on Instagram sent me all of these incredible notes for this episode. There's a few more here that I really wanna get to. So, okay, this one's a good one because it kind of relates to something we discussed earlier but it's a more specific question on when in your mind do you know when you're settling or you're not settling? But how do you know?

Dear Therapist: How Do I Know If I’m Settling? (48:22)

- I think if you're asking yourself that question, that's a really important sign. But I think you need to get clear is, is this something culturally, like the culture has told me that I need to be with someone like this and whether that's like the greater culture or your specific culture that you grew up in or your family culture, whose voice is it? I think that's really important that as adults, sometimes we can't tease out our own voice from the voices of people who raised us or the culture even. So, I think that's an important question. I also think the question is, when we think about what compromises we have to make with another person, we don't tend to think about what compromises somebody has to make to be with us, which is a really important point. - So good. It's not like, I think people treat dating like shopping. Like, I want this, I'm gonna go find this. And it's not like the clothes when you're shopping or to be like, I don't think you're gonna look good in that or I'd rather be with someone who looks differently. Like the clothes are not judging you, right? But the thing is like when you're going into a relationship with going back to the, we can't order up people all a cart, they can't order up you all a cart either. And we have this weird notion in our culture that like love is loving all the annoying things about me too. No, people are not gonna, they're going to love you even though you have these annoying things. But that doesn't mean they're gonna love the annoying things. - Of course not. - So we have this weird idea that this unconditional love and it's just they misuse that term. So I think we have to remember that as we are thinking about this whole human being, this person is choosing us with all of our annoying things, our quirks, our maybe our past that we haven't really worked through that we're still working through. And we have this idea that I'm shopping for someone, you're not shopping for someone, it's how do I feel with this person? That is the most important question you can ask. How do I feel when I'm with this person? And if you feel you enjoy their company, you feel heard, you feel understood, you feel safe, you're having fun, you're not settling. How the rest is just noise. - Yeah, yeah. I really like those two really powerful points. I think so many of our definitions of the perfect partner, settling, whatever it may be, comes from a societal, parental impact. And so what do my friends think of him or what would they react? Oh no, they're gonna know I'm settling. And it's like, well no, was that your definition of what a good partner was? And the second point that you meant that I love because I do it all the time, whenever I'm sitting there in my head and I'm thinking, God, I've made so many sacrifices for my wife, I've done this so that I come up with a list of hers in my head and I'm like, oh, she's made so many. Like it's such a great activity to do that. When I think about, I often ask people to zoom out and say, you may think, like maybe someone's sitting there going, I do everything financially for a relationship or I do everything physically for this relationship. Like I get the groceries, I do the house cleaning, whatever it may be. I always ask people to zoom out and go, look at your life physically, financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Okay, if you're making all the sacrifices across all five of those, there's something really important to look at. But more often than not, when people zoom out, they go, oh, actually you're right. Like I pick up the slack here and they pick up the slack there and there's a bit of give and take. Yeah, and I would say also, one exercise to do is describe the relationship from their perspective. Yeah. Right? Like what are they putting up with really? If they were to really talk about the relationship from their perspective, there would be all these great things and there would be all the sacrifices they're making too. And sometimes we forget about that. Absolutely. All right, I like this one. So there's this person who was let go from their job and decided that she may want to get into comedy because she always had a dream of being a comedian but doesn't want to feel like she is taking a step back into the service industry in order to pursue her goals that may be very far to reach.

Dear Therapist: I Want To Purse My Dream Job, But I’m Scared Of Making A Big Change (52:32)

She has some trouble with structure and facing the unknown of it all. How do you suggest she structures herself and gives herself tangible benchmarks? I think that people make this binary. I'm either going to pursue my dream and give up everything else or I'm not going to pursue my dream. And I always say to people, you can have two things going at once. It's a lot safer to say, I'm going to try comedy and I'm going to put everything I have into it but I'm also not going to maybe leave my job yet. And so I can see whether this really works for me or not before I give up this other thing. So it doesn't have to be so binary. Yeah, I agree with that. I think that I think too often we make that move too quick. Yeah. If someone comes up to and goes, "Yeah, just listen to your podcast "and I've decided to make this big switch." I'm like, "I don't think I said that. "Please don't do that." That's definitely not what I'm encouraging. If anything, I'm encouraging this journey of learning about something you love first, experimenting, maybe interning, apprenticeships, shadowing, watch how the job's actually done. I'm so much more into an incremental approach to change as opposed to thinking that this big, all in approach is going to suddenly deliver some miraculous reward. If anything, if you go slower, you'll learn more. And then when you do make the big jump, it will actually more likely be more successful. That's right. And I think the other question to ask is, "Am I moving towards something "or am I trying to escape from something?" Because sometimes people will just jump into something very impulsively because they want to get out of their situation and they don't do well with uncertainty 'cause most people don't. So they want an answer. So they feel like, "I can't just leave this other thing "that I know is making me unhappy. "I don't want to be a lawyer anymore. "I don't want to do this job anymore. "But I don't know what else to do. "So I'm going to do this other thing, "but you're not even sure you want to do the other thing yet. "So are you escaping or are you moving toward?" - Yeah, definitely. And I think when we're trying to escape too soon-- - Yes. - Without thinking it through. - Yeah, and that's actually been one of the biggest things that I've actually been talking about this a lot lately because I think it's impacted me so much in my life. And I was, it's almost like if you don't like where you are, if you can figure out a way to learn from it. And when I say learn from it, I don't mean some magical life lesson. I mean, thinking about what are the practical lessons I could learn here? What are the things I can get curious about? Sure, I don't like the setup, I don't like my manager, but maybe there's something here that's actually going to benefit me in the future. All of a sudden, I'm not saying that becomes the best job you've ever had, but it doesn't feel as painful while you build the next step. - Yes. - Whereas this desire to just rush out of pain, or again, pain is maybe a strong word, but rush out of a place that you wanna escape from, you actually might fall into the same thing again in another way, which we again do in relationships as well. - We do that all the time. Somebody is like, I'm gonna leave this relationship. And then, oh, but I fell in love with this other person. Maybe you do need to leave that relationship, but why don't you take a beat? Why don't you see, are you just going to another person and you're gonna repeat all the same things in this other relationship? Or do you wanna understand more about, do I understand what happened in this relationship, why it didn't work, and then now I can leave in a way that feels good, or maybe I was wrong, and maybe there actually was something great here, but there was a problem that I wasn't willing to face in this relationship. - Yeah. I wanna ask you this question, because obviously, we're talking today about your beautiful new journal that assists, maybe you should talk to someone, which is the book that I interviewed you about, a couple of years ago, which is such a phenomenal book. It's helped so many people.

Why Is Journaling An Important Self-help Tool? (56:33)

How and why is journaling valuable to everything we're discussing today? - I think that one of the things that happens when you journal is you go into this space that you don't go into when you're not writing it down. When you actually can see something, it's very different from thinking it. Our thoughts are fleeting. They just move around, they're very disorganized. And the thing about journaling is no one's judging it, no one's seeing it, it's just for you. I used to think, it's funny, 'cause I put out this journal, but I used to not want to journal because I would think, oh, it's a chore and I'm gonna have to sit down and it's gonna have, what if, I don't know what to say or I don't really have anything to say? And the way that I've structured this journal is there's a prompt that comes from, maybe you should talk to someone, just to give you a little bit of structure, but it follows you through the 52 weeks of the year like a therapy session. And we always say that the work of most of the work of therapy happens outside the therapy room. So people think, I'm gonna come to therapy, I'm gonna have all these insights, and that's my therapy, no. You're gonna, if you don't use what you learn in therapy and you don't put it into action during the week, then the insight is useless. So someone might say, oh, I got into that fight with my partner again and now I understand why. And I'll say, well, that's great, but did you do something different? Well, no, but, okay, well, good for a step, understanding why, but now you need to do something different. So when you reflect every day during the week, then you say, what am I doing with this bit of insight? So the prompt will maybe inspire some kind of insight into your life and then how do you noodle that around during the week and you can watch your progression 'cause you've written it down. And what I love about doing a journal for a year is that you can look at like three months ago, I thought this, but look how I'm handling this situation now. And it just takes five minutes. A lot of people will wake up in the morning in journal just to clear their minds. Many of us will wake up and the first thing we do is we look at our phones and already we're stressed. And already we're thinking about, oh, I didn't do this or I'm behind already. It's not a good way to start your day. I love taking five minutes in the morning to just write down so that then it's out there and I don't have to sit with it all day long. A lot of people also will do it right before bed because you know how sometimes we'll just think all these thoughts before bed and it keeps you up at night and you can't sleep, you journal before bed and now you feel like, oh, I'm really, I'm all cleared out, I feel good. So I think that journaling is really valuable and I think it reminds me of something that we often say in relationships that it's easy to notice the person who gets angry in a relationship and harder to notice the person who smiles all the time. So when people say like, oh, my partner's angry all the time and it's like, well, because you're ignoring, that person's holding the anger for both of you. If you journal, you might notice, if you're the person who smiles all the time, that maybe you have some anger too or maybe you have trouble bringing something up. And if you're a really avoidant person, like the person who does smile all the time, it's a good thing to put it down in a journal 'cause then you say, oh wait, there are things that I wanna bring up and let me figure out what to do with them. Or if you're the person who's angry and is holding the anger for both of you, you might start to notice through journaling, I'm not, it's not my job. Why am I angry all the time? This person is not willing to have any of these conversations. This person's stonewalling me. So you discover a lot about yourself and your patterns when you have this space that you can be vulnerable in that no one's judging. - To add to that, one of the things that I think that's so special about journaling is that it's so much easier to measure a physical change. So if you're trying to put on where it lose weight, if you're trying to build a muscle, whatever it may be, you can measure that and there's a number to it. And I found that for me, journaling's always been a great way of looking back a week ago, a month ago, a year ago and going, what was I thinking about then? Where was I in my head space? What was I worried about? And often I've found when I've gone and done that, you can actually see growth in the same way as having like a marker. And if you're not journaling every day, you kind of don't know whether you're moving forward or backward because you don't have something to think about. You just have your feeling in the moment. Whereas when you look back and you think, wow, five years ago, I can't leave, I used to worry about that exam or that interview or that, whatever it may have been. And now I'm like, I wouldn't be worried about that at all. Things have changed. And so to me, it's a great way of monitoring and measuring growth. - Yeah, and I think that change is really hard.

The Stages Of Change (01:01:02)

This is why New Year's resolutions tend not to work out for people a lot of the time. And you can see when you journal, I talk in the book, maybe you should talk to someone about the stages of change. And you can see them happen. So pre-contemplation is you don't even know that you're thinking about making a change. So that's when you're kind of in denial in your journal, like, oh no, this isn't really happening. And you see yourself kind of justify or rationalize things that you know just are not right. And then contemplation is you know you need to make a change, but you're not ready yet. So now you're getting more real with yourself. That's usually when people come to therapy at the contemplation, but you can see it in the journal. Oh, now I'm really getting out of denial. And then there's preparation where you're sort of saying, how do I prepare to make this change? What steps do I need to take? Whether I wanna leave this relationship or I wanna get into a relationship and put myself out there more, or I wanna you know, I wanna go after some dream or I wanna set a boundary. So how am I preparing for this? And then action is when you actually make the change, but that's not the last step. The last step is maintenance. And that's the most important change. And that doesn't mean I have to maintain the change and be perfect. It means that I'm going to slip back like in shoots and ladders, right? So it's like, yes, I will, there'll be, oh, I broke up with that person, but no, I called them. I didn't mean to call them. That doesn't mean you failed. That just means you're human. And so how can you show yourself and you can do this in your journal? How can you write something to yourself that's very compassionate, but also holding yourself accountable? So, and how you can look in your journal about, how do I talk to myself? You know, do I beat myself up all the time? Am I a bully to myself? Or can I be compassionate with myself? Because that will actually help me to be accountable. I can be more accountable when I'm kind to myself. So that doesn't mean, oh, it's fine that you called him. You just get back in the relationship with him. It means, oh, you were feeling sad or you were feeling lonely. And you called him 'cause you were lonely, but maybe next time I'll call a friend. Maybe next time I'll take a walk. Maybe next time I will go to this meeting, you know, whatever you need to do. And then you're really being compassionate. And you have in your journal kind of this friend that's really kind to yourself that knows you really well and that knows what you need to do. And it's right there on the page. - Such a great note about your journal, letting you know how you talk to yourself. - Yes. - The language you use yourself and helping you change that because when it's on the page, you can cross it out, you can edit it, you can write a new version. When it's in your head, it just keeps repeating. And you never get that moment to edit it or to filter it. Laurie, you've been so kind with your time today.

Dear Therapist: How Do I Get Over A Difficult Breakup? (01:03:45)

- I wanna ask you one last thing, and it's about what you just mentioned there. And I think it's breakups. And it's, you know, I still find till this day that breakups seem to be the hardest relationship transition that people tend to go through, maybe apart from grief or maybe even similar. And I'd love your thoughts on that. But because it is a kind of loss, I think that people feel there was one person from the audience that we were connected with that had a breakup and they really, they were together with this person for two years, they really thought this to the person that they were going to spend their life with. They really thought this was going in that direction. They felt that they actually had good compatibility. They were good at talking about things. But then what felt like out of the blue to this person, they just felt that this person was like, I don't think this is going in that direction anymore. And then things withered away quickly. It's hard when you kind of, you know, and this is probably what you get all the time. People don't feel a sense of closure. They don't really understand the other person's not doing a good job explaining it and doesn't want to or doesn't have the time. What are some of the steps that we need to take when we're kind of lost in that no person's land of? I thought I had something, it doesn't exist anymore. - The first thought loss is exactly, it's grief. And people go through the stages of grief. And the stages of grief are not sequential. So they're actually meant for people who are experiencing terminal illness, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. But they're very apt, I think, for any kind of loss. And when you talk about a breakup, there can be denial, like, oh, you don't really mean that. We really are compatible. And you try to talk the other person into maybe seeing the light that they can't see. You know, the anger is, how could you have led me on for this amount of time? You're such a terrible person, you wasted all my time. You were lying to me this whole time. When the person wasn't, they probably truly, you know, thought this was going somewhere. You know, the bargaining is, well, what if, you know, and the person tells you maybe why they're breaking up with you, like, I don't think that we're compatible in this way. And then you try to become the thing. You know, like, what if I did this? Or I can be more this, or we can do this. And they're like, no, that's not really the way this will get solved. You know, depression, which is just the whole, I mean, it's so, because I think what people don't realize is it's not what you're losing just in the moment. It's you're losing the future that you had imagined. So you lose the past, you lose like all the, whatever amount of time you spent with that person, you built a life with this person and it's the dailyness. There's an intimacy to that dailyness. There's a comfort, there's a safety of this person knows all these little quirks about me. You know, we have all these inside jokes. We have a shorthand. You know, this person asks how my day is. I know it's the dailyness of being with someone. So you lose that, it's very lonely. But then you also lose the future. You had built up a whole story about what your lives were gonna be like in a year, five years, 10 years, 20 years. Gone. And you have nothing to replace it with right now 'cause you don't know what it's gonna look like yet. So the grief is real and I think people try to downplay it. They're like, why are you so sad about this? He was a jerk or she was a jerk or whatever. It's like, I'm sad because I lost something very important to me and your friends need to realize that instead of just demonizing the other person. They need to realize like you lost something really valuable in your daily life, in the present, in the future, part of your past, all of that is gone now. So that's really hard. I think the other part of then dealing with the grief is letting yourself feel it 'cause it's real. No matter what people tell you, it's real. And the other part is the story that you're telling yourself about it is really important. So you might be telling yourself a story of the other person's terrible. That might feel good in the moment. It might be something like, I'm bad. I'm not good enough. If I were only something else, this person would love me more or I'm not lovable or I'll never find anyone. Those are not helpful stories 'cause it's not true. You are not compatible with this person for whatever reason, even though you thought you were. If the other person doesn't feel you're the right person for them, you're automatically incompatible. Yeah. You can't make it so that, well, they just don't see it. So we aren't compatible because the other person doesn't want to be with me. So many times I'll hear someone even without a breakup, like someone will be dating someone and the person isn't really invested in the relationship maybe in the way that they would like them to. And the person sitting on my couch will say, "But we're so compatible. "We're so perfect for each other." That person just has intimacy issues and I could just change them. Even if the breakup was about you think the person had intimacy issues, it doesn't really matter. The point is they aren't able to be with you so you are not compatible. And so that is, I think, very comforting to know. Like, we are just not compatible, even though it hurts a lot. We're not compatible and I have to sit with the pain of, I need to know that we were not compatible and that's not going to jade me in other relationships. And I think that's the important thing. So many times we get into a new relationship after that and we punish the new person for something the old person did. - Yeah. - Right? The old person wasn't truthful with me. So I'm gonna check your phone all the time. No, don't put someone in jail for a crime they didn't commit. So you gotta really know what are the wounds from this relationship? What am I learning from this? What does this teach me about me, about the other person? And then how do I move into a new relationship with hope and with caution and holding both hope and caution? - Fantastic. Laurie, the reason why I love talking to you about this is you're doing this all the time. Whether it's in your private practice, whether it's on dear therapist or whether it's through your books. And if you've been listening or watching today, everyone, I hope that you go and grab a copy of "Maybe You Should Talk To Someone," the journal 52 Weekly Sessions to Transform Your Life by Laurie Gottlieb. And as I said, you can subscribe to her podcast. And if you haven't read, maybe you should talk to someone. Make sure you go and grab that book as well. Laurie, thank you so much for joining us on On Purpose. - Oh, my pleasure. - I said, "Well, we gotta spend this time together today and answer some of our audiences' questions and challenges and I'm hoping that all of you who had yours answered or maybe, even if you didn't send something in, but you felt heard and you felt seen and you felt understood because so much of what we're all going through is so intertwined. And so thank you to everyone who is brave enough, courageous enough to share your stories. And Laurie, thank you for answering them so expertly. - Oh, thank you so much for having me. I always love having these conversations with you. - Thank you, Laurie. If you love this episode, you'll love my interview with Dr. Gabor Mate on understanding your trauma and how to heal emotional wounds to start moving on from the past. - Everything in nature grows only where it's vulnerable. So a tree doesn't grow over, it's hard and thick, does it? It grows where it's soft and green and vulnerable.

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